Advertising
Advertising

15 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Love An Addict

15 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Love An Addict

Addiction is a snake that wraps around your neck, slithering and squeezing you tighter and tighter until you are gasping for air. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, food, video games, or the computer screen, you stand by helplessly watching your loved one morph into an unrecognizable creature. You are wide-awake in a nightmare.

If you love an addict, you feel as if your life is fading away. You are unable to sleep, eat, work, socialize, or maintain friendships. Nights are spent staring into darkness. Your imagination conjures up scenes of your addict lying in the street, hoping and praying that someone is sober enough to get her (or him) home safely. You are powerless, frustrated, and losing your own life as your loved one spirals deeper and deeper into addiction.

There are many different levels to the wild cycle of addiction. From denial, stealing, lying, and rock bottoms; with promises of change only to bounce back for just one more go round.

While the addict falls into the dungeons of darkness, you are dragged down with him. Everyone suffers.

Advertising

There is hope. Once you step back, you will be able to take positive action to get your life in order. Addiction causes chaos and confusion. In order to gain clarity and start your own healing process, ask yourself these questions.

1. What can I do?

Try as hard as you can to get your addict the help he/she needs. After you have exhausted every effort to get your loved one sober, you have to make the decision to live your life. You must take your own life back. It’s a decision you must make and remake daily. You deserve to live. You are still here.

2. How is this affecting the rest of my family and loved ones?

You probably don’t realize it, but there are other people in your life that need you, want you, and miss you. It’s easy to forget everyone else when every breath, step, and heartbeat of yours is being controlled by your addict’s choices.

3. Where’s the closest support group?

Find the closest support group-ASAP! The only person that understands what you are going through is someone who is going through the same thing. Friends try to help. People offer advice, but unless they are in the same situation, their words mean nothing. They do not understand your pain, fear, and helplessness.

Advertising

4. Who’s my 3:00 a.m. friend?

Sleepless nights are frightening. You need someone you can call in the middle of the night. Even if you never call her, you need to know that you can. You need someone who will wake up from a deep sleep, hear your voice, sit up and listen to you. Talking is important, but be careful not to become obsessive talking only about your addict. Sometimes the only one there for you at 3:00 a.m. is your Higher Power. No phone calls required.

5. How can I change?

Set a customized program for your day. Structure your life. As the addict needs to structure his, you need to live on a schedule. Having too much free time allows your mind to travel into the dungeon of darkness. Don’t go there. Don’t fall into the trap. Get out of bed, take a walk, go to the gym, pray, listen to podcasts, repeat inspiration mantras throughout the day. 12 step programs are the tried and true effective method for dealing with addiction. However, not everyone responds to them the same. Find the program that works for you and work it! Live it, breathe it, every moment of every day.

6. Will meditation help?

When your thoughts are running wild and your heart is racing, sitting still and focusing your thoughts is the last thing you want to do. You probably want to run away from thoughts, not run into them. Ironically, the process of meditation benefits your negative thoughts, fears, and anxiety.

Meditation has many forms. A daily walk while reciting prayers or words of comfort (mantras work great) is also a form of meditation. Learn to comfort yourself. Have a toolbox of actions to take that will calm you when your heart starts pounding and your mind starts racing. Daily meditation is an exercise for your mind. It is a mind muscle that allows you to control your thoughts.

Advertising

7. How is my breathing?

Addiction takes your breath away, literally. You don’t realize that when you spend most of your day worried about where your addict is, what she is doing, and if she’s okay; that you forget to breathe. Learn breathing techniques. QiGong, pranayama, Dr. Andrew Weil, and Thich Nhat Hanh all have easy to follow breathing exercises that work.  If you practice them daily, you will benefit immediately.

8. When was the last time I laughed?

Addiction is also a thief that robs you of all joy, and takes away your smile. One of the simplest joys in life is laughter. Laughter is non-existent. Your smile has disappeared. You can’t remember the last time you had fun.

9. Do I love myself?

Love yourself enough to take back your own life. You deserve to live. You are alive. Start to live again. Separate yourself from your addict. Give the addict his own life to live. You can’t control it. You didn’t cause it. You can’t change it. Learn to detach. It doesn’t mean you are taking your love away. It means you are helpless and the addict has to figure out how to he wants to live his life.

10. What is my role in my addict’s life?

It’s hard to admit but often people who love addicts become addicted to their addict. You think about your loved one every minute of the day and night. You are one. There’s so separation between you. Co-dependency is unhealthy compassion in disguise.

Advertising

11. Do I have healthy boundaries?

People who love addicts have a hard time setting limits. Loving, kind people have trouble saying no. They are givers who love passionately. Healthy boundaries are necessary for important decisions that you have to make regarding money, food, and where they will sleep.

12. Is my addict strong enough to survive on his own?

Addicts are slick, smart, strong, and tough. Don’t underestimate an addict’s ability to maneuver through situations. If they can handle addiction, they can handle anything. This is also their strength, their potential for greatness, once they get clean.

13. How do I surrender?

Let it go, all of it. Stop clinging to your dreams, desires, plans and schemes. You don’t know what’s best, even though you think you do. Letting go is a mantra; a chant that gets you through the pain, the fear, and the darkness. Repeat it over and over until you believe it. Let it permeate every cell of your being. Letting go is freedom.

14. What if I don’t have a Higher Power?

Find one. You cannot go through this alone. Whether it’s your religious beliefs or a “power greater than yourself,” you have to have someone to talk to when no one else is there. You have to pray to something and believe that your prayers will be heard. You have to believe that miracles can happen, because they do.

15. Can I survive this?

Yes! You will survive. You will smile again. You will laugh again. You will breathe again. Wake up early, go out and watch the sun rise. Look at the stars and the moon at night. Open your eyes and look around you. See all the people who surround you with love. Hug them, hold on to them. Open up your heart. Love again. Live again.

More by this author

June Silny

ADHD Coach, Writer, ADDitude Magazine featured contributor

20 Pieces of Life-Changing Advice You Can Actually Learn From Your Daily Life 18 Signs You’ve Found Your Soulmate 12 Ways To Deal With Stubborn People And Convince Them To Listen 20 Things to Remember If You Love a Person with ADD If You Love Someone Who Has ADHD, Don’t Do These 20 Things

Trending in Communication

1 How to Improve Intimacy in Your Marriage and Rekindle the Passion 2 13 Simple Ways To Express Gratitude Daily 3 Why You Feel Lonely In Your Marriage And How To Deal With It 4 6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of 5 How To Spark A Positive Mood When Feeling Dull

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

Advertising

2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

Advertising

  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

Advertising

This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

Advertising

6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

Read Next